Posts Tagged DIY

Buy or Build A Tiny Home: Cost And Considerations

Buy or Build A Tiny Home: Cost And Considerations

Buy or Build A Tiny Home


Making the decision to live in a tiny house is only the beginning of your journey! Once you decide to adopt the tiny life, you’ll need to figure out whether you want to build or buy your tiny home.

There is a lot to consider when making the decision to buy or build, but there are really only a few basic things worth considering most heavily.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

When I made the decision to build my own tiny house 10 years ago, I had to learn as I went. Since then, I’ve helped over 3,000 people build tiny homes of their own; here is what I’ve learned when it comes to making this critical decision.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

Should I Build Or Buy My Tiny House?

Should I Build Or Buy My Tiny House

There are many important questions to ask yourself when deciding whether to build or buy a tiny house. At the end of the day, whichever way you go, you’re going to be investing time, money, and resources into the project. You want to make a decision that will help the outcome be worth your while.

is it better to build or buy a tiny homeWhen I started looking into living tiny, things were totally different than they are today. The tiny house community was a small movement still finding its way. There were fewer tiny home owners and online resources, and there weren’t even any builders until much later in the game.

Keep in mind that I was working for corporate America in the middle of the recession, I had never built anything myself before in my life, and money was tight! For me, the decision was simple, and cost was the major driver.

I was 23, drowning in student loans, and I had always been attracted to the idea of building my own home and learning skills I could use down the line. I knew building my tiny home was the way to go.

Today, the tiny house community has grown so much. There are builders in every state who offer prefabricated, turn-key tiny home models shipped straight to your town. You can also partner with building companies to create custom designs. The opportunities out there are abundant.

how to buy a tiny house

How Much Can You Afford To Spend On Your Tiny House?

How Much Can You Afford To Spend On Your Tiny House

The amount of money you have to invest in your tiny house is the most important thing to consider. Money is pretty black and white with things like this; you either have $10,000 or $50,000 to spend on the project, or whatever amount you have. It kind of makes the decision for you.

tiny house kitchenIt’s always going to be more expensive to buy a house through a builder because you’re paying for materials, labor, and their overhead, whereas if you build the home yourself, you’re handling those hoops on your own.

Whether you choose to buy or build, don’t let the size or idea of a tiny house trick you into believing it’s not a huge financial investment. The average tiny home costs about $27,000. However, the price of tiny homes has a huge range because of how many elements are considered.

It really comes down to how much you’re able to spend. Be honest about where you’re at financially and act according to the numbers, not according to your desires.

how much does a tiny house cost

Can You Put In The Time And Effort Required To Build A Tiny House?

Can You Put In The Time And Effort Required To Build A Tiny House

If you choose to build your home yourself, you’re looking at a year of time dedicated to the project at the very minimum. When I say a year, I don’t mean like when you commit to a book club for a year and have a couple meetings a month. I’m talking dedicating the bulk of your weekends and weekday leisure time to your tiny home.

getting a grip on a busy scheduleWhen I was building my tiny house, I was going to work during the day, and when I wasn’t working, I was either planning, buying materials, researching, building, or sleeping. There wasn’t much time to do anything else.

I’ve had friends who think they want to build their own tiny home, but when I tell them how much time and effort it actually takes, they realize they can’t afford a commitment like that at this time in your life.

I’m not saying this to discourage the building option. Like I said before, I built my own tiny home and would definitely choose that route again! However, it’s important to have a realistic understanding of what goes into building a tiny home so you can decide if you’re able to actually do it. The worst feeling is getting halfway through a project you’ve invested so much time and money in only to have to abandon it halfway through.

Maybe you’re raising four kids right now, you have a really demanding full-time job, or you just don’t feel like you’re in the place to invest all your time and energy into this. However, just because you don’t feel like you can go all in right now, doesn’t mean the dream of building your own tiny house cannot become a reality down the road.

Do You Have Building Experience?

Do You Have Building Experience

If you want to go the building route, having previous building experience is a big advantage. But it’s not an absolute necessity.
I went from being a corporate businessman to a skilled builder through the process of building my tiny home. The whole experience was a huge learning process for me and gave me confidence and lifelong skills I still use today. Trust me — if I can do it, anyone can.

Just because everyone can learn, though, doesn’t mean that everyone is ready to. It’s not easy, and it takes hard work, being a corporate desk worker meant I wasn’t used to long days of heavy physical work. If you aren’t feeling ready to do it all on your own, consider asking friends, family, or neighbors who have the skills to come over and grab a hammer.

Even if you have lots of people to help, realize that you’re going to still be doing a ton of work and, sometimes, having people help you can actually slow you down.

One of my last and most important pieces of advice: make sure you have health insurance if you’re building your own tiny home.

Not only can building be challenging, but just like with any construction project, you can get hurt. I’ve had two friends put a nail through their hand with a nail gun and one friend fall off a ladder and break her back. Of course, injuries won’t happen to everyone, but you want to stay safe above all else.

tiny house design and build collection

How Much Control Do You Want Over Your Design?

How Much Control Do You Want Over Your Design

Another thing to consider when deciding to buy or build is how personal you want your home to be. There are so many options out there when it comes to partnering with a builder and creating a custom design, but it’s still someone else’s work at the end of the day.
Even with the closest builder-to-buyer relationship, there may still be elements of your home that don’t turn out exactly the way you had wanted. If you’re building the house yourself, you’ll have full control over every decision and detail!

how to design a tiny house

How Quickly Do You Want To Start Living In Your Tiny House?

How Quickly Do You Want To Start Living In Your Tiny House

Time is another important factor to keep in mind. Like I mentioned before, if you’re building your own tiny house, it will likely take you a year at the very least. Probably closer to two years, realistically.

With a building company, a custom design will take some time, but not as much time as building your own home. The fastest option is to buy a prefabricated model and get it shipped to you. The route you choose will depend on how quickly you want to unlock your door and say, “home sweet home.”

Buying Verses Building A Tiny Home: Cost Comparison

Buying Verses Building A Tiny Home Cost Comparison

Cost is ultimately the biggest consideration when deciding to buy or build your tiny house. Whatever way you cut it, building yourself is the cheapest option. However, there are many specifics ways you can buy verses build, and they’re all going to vary in price.

The Cost To Build A Tiny House

When it comes to building, the price is going to vary depending on several factors. A tiny house is not one lump sum, but is instead made up of many individual parts that add up to the total cost.

The Cost To Buy A Tiny House

The cost of buying a tiny house is much more cut-and-dry. Since the tiny house has already been built, you’re paying for materials and labor that are no longer malleable. The price for a tiny house you buy is what it is. For some people, that makes the entire process easier. Others would rather have more of a say over each detail of their home.

What Are You Paying For In A Tiny House?

What Are You Paying For When You Buy Or Build A Tiny House

There are lots of things to consider that affects where those dollars go, whether you buy or build. Either way, you’re investing in materials, labor, and other elements of the home. I want to spell those things that cost you in order to help you make the most informed decision possible.

The Bulk Of Your Cost Is Materials

The Bulk Of Your Cost Is Materials

Whether you buy or build your tiny house, a large portion of the cost will be materials. This includes buying the actual lumber, screws, wiring, plumbing, doors, windows — anything that goes into a home.

You’re paying for these materials whether you assemble the house yourself or pay someone else to do it for you. This means that you want to invest in high-quality materials where it makes the most sense, while cutting costs where you can to mitigate the price.

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tiny house electrical

Paying For Labor Can Add Up Quickly

Paying For Labor Can Add Up Quickly

The next thing to consider when breaking down the cost of a tiny house is the price you pay for labor. This is the differentiating factor when we’re talking buying or building.

A general rule of thumb is that labor is usually proportional to the material costs. Take the cost of the house you want to build, and if you’re going to have someone build it for you, double the price.

While it is ultimately more expensive to hire a builder and invest in the labor, you know it will be done right (hopefully). If you build the home yourself, you don’t have to pay for labor, but you run the risk of making mistakes that could end up being costly down the line.

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Ways To Save Money On Your Tiny Home

Ways To Save Money On Your Tiny Home

Whether or not you decide to buy or build, there are ways to specifically mitigate cost. However, there are also some elements where going cheaper may reduce the quality of your home. Staying informed on where to cut corners and where not to is key, whether you’re buying or building.

Money-Saving Measures In Your Tiny House

Money-Saving Measures In Your Tiny House

There are several areas where you can save money without reducing the quality of your home. This isn’t the case with every element, but I’ve been doing this long enough to know what works.

Things To Spend Less On: Floors, Cabinets and Fixtures

tiny house floors


The nice thing about flooring is that, square footage wise, tiny houses are small. It doesn’t actually take a lot of flooring to cover your home. If you’re looking for a place to cut costs in your budget, flooring is the first place I’d start. The best thing about saving on flooring is if you decide down the line that you want to make a change, it’s not set in stone.

tiny house cabinets


Cabinets are another feature you can spend a ton of money on unnecessarily. I would suggest going with Ikea cabinets or a pre-built, project cabinet kit from Lowes or Home Depot. You can stain them or paint them yourself, and they have tons of styles and sizes. This is the most affordable option.

tiny house fixtures


You can also save big on fixtures. With lighting fixtures, you can find some good deals or go secondhand. With plumbing fixtures, I’d stick to standard, off-the-shelf models.

Overall, whether you choose to buy or build your tiny house, you can make decisions that cut costs without sacrificing quality. At the end of the day, both options have pros and cons, but it really comes down to what works for you, your partner, or your family.

Tiny House Elements You Should Not Cut Corners On

Tiny House Elements You Should Not Cut Corners On

The last thing you want to do is spend less money on things you should really be investing in, compromising the quality of your home. There are some elements of your tiny home, whether buying or building, that it’s worth spending more on the front end to save yourself from spending a lot on repairs down the road.

Things To Spend More On: Trailer, Roof, Windows & Doors

tiny house trailers


My recommendation has always been to buy a brand-new trailer from a reputable source. That’s your foundation, and you don’t want to cheap out on your foundation because your whole house is built on it.

I’ve seen people try to buy used trailers or build their own, and it’s just not the way to go. Every single person I’ve talked to who has pursued a used trailer has regretted it. Unless you’re a metal fabricator, don’t even go down that road.

tiny house roofing materials


Second, invest in your roof. Your roof protects everything, because everything in your home sits below it. Your overhead protection is not worth skimping out on. I personally like standing C metal roofs because they are wind resistant and hold up for a long time. It’s much easier for shingles to fly off when driving down the road, so I’d avoid that route.

tiny house windows and doors

Windows and Doors

When it comes to windows and doors, go with stock sizes. Custom designs can triple or quadruple your cost, and there’s no need to go this route when you can get stock sizes for the same quality.

Just be sure to invest in quality products. These are the parts of your home that lead to the outside world, so refraining from cutting corners here will keep your house protected from things like bugs or the elements.

Your Turn!

  • Are you planning to build or buy your tiny home and why?
  • How will you strategically save money when you buy or build?

Homesteading Book Review: The Best Books To Help You Become Self Sufficient

Homesteading Book Review: The Best Books To Help You Become Self Sufficient

homesteading book review

The practice of homesteading can find its way into one’s life in many different ways. For some, being a homesteader looks like producing your own food, making your own clothes, managing a small hobby farm, or generating your own power. For others, the journey towards self-sufficiency might be as simple as adding a vertical garden of climbing peas to your apartment balcony.

I started out by adding chickens next to my small raised bed, then integrated other versions of homesteading into my life gradually. The process was a slow one, but that made it fun and manageable.

Start small. Take baby steps to start your homestead. Pick a skill you’re wanting to learn and engage with a book from that list, then see what happens. Happy reading!

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

Homesteading can be life changing if you give it the chance, but, like anything, the first step is to learn. I’ve compiled a list of what I feel are the most helpful books for those looking to get into homesteading, and sorted them by category.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

Homesteading Books For Beginners

Homesteading Books For Beginners

Homesteading entails many different areas of work and varieties of DIYing, which can all seem a little overwhelming to a beginner. This booklist includes guides that are broken down simply, ideal for someone who wants to start a self-sufficient life but is looking for some guidance on how to get started.

The Encyclopedia of Country Living

The Encyclopedia of Country Living

by Carla Emery

If I had a friend who was getting into homesteading and asked for my advice, this is likely the first read I’d recommend. Carla’s encyclopedia includes detailed instructions for a plethora of important homesteader skillsets, including canning and preserving food, gardening, growing your own food, beekeeping, cooking on a wood stove, raising livestock, milling flour, tapping maple trees, and much more.

New Complete Book Of Self Sufficiency

New Complete Book Of Self Sufficiency

by John Seymour

With the newest version published in 2019, John’s Complete Book Of Self Sufficiency is full of comprehensive information about life as a homesteader. The guide also includes detailed instructions for various elements of the lifestyle, like how to create an urban organic garden or how to harness natural energy.

The Homesteading Handbook

The Homesteading Handbook

by Abigail Gehring

I know firsthand that life can quickly become noisy, chaotic, and overwhelming. This read delves deeper than the mere process of minimization — it’s about what that process can do for you.

Dana elaborates on the reasons why decluttering can often feel difficult. She writes about the ways our emotions get in the way of creating a clutter-free life for ourselves, and ways to combat these mental roadblocks.

Mini Farming On Quarter An Acre

Mini Farming On ¼ An Acre

by Brett Markham

If the self-sufficient lifestyle of homesteading is appealing to you, but you don’t have a ton of land to work off of, this book is for you. Brett walks you through ways that having less land doesn’t have to limit you when it comes to homesteading.

Even if you have never been a farmer or a gardener, this book covers what’s essential for beginners to know, like buying and saving seeds, crop rotation, farm planning, seasonal gardening, crop rotation, and many other basic farming need to knows.

The Backyard Homestead

The Backyard Homestead

by Carleen Madigan

With several different editions including an all-inclusive guide to raising livestock, growing your own food, kitchen know-how, building projects, and a seasonal planner, Carleen’s The Backyard Homestead series is one of the best guides for beginner homesteaders. Each guide includes step-by-step instructions for the topic it covers, along with pictures and diagrams for you to follow.

Homesteading Books On Buying And Managing Land

Homesteading Books On Buying And Managing Land

Owning, managing, tending to, and working off of your land is the first step to becoming a successful homesteader. Without your own land, it’s hard to maintain a self-sufficient life. These homesteading books will help you locate quality farmland and gain tips for keeping it up on your own.

Finding Good Farmland

Finding Good Farmland

Larkin Hansen

Finding Good Farmland covers every aspect you should consider before buying your own farmland, including government regulations, residential concerns from the surrounding area where you’re searching, soil conditions, and ways to budget. This read is a great self-checker if you’re looking for quality farmland and want to ensure you’ve thought through the basics and the details.

Five Acres and Independence

Five Acres and Independence

by Maurice Grenville Kains

Maurice provides an easy-to-understand view of what small-scale farming entails practically. This read helps you evaluate land economically and agriculturally, guiding you in making an informed purchase. You’ll learn suggestions for land management like draining the land or improving soil quality, suggestions for when to grow seasonal crops, tips for raising goats, chickens, and bees on a small-scale farm, as well as marketing tips for farmers.

Land Buying Tips From the Pros

Land Buying Tips From the Pros

by Pat Porter

Pat’s book will give you specific information about different types of land and what to watch for when thinking about investing. No two types of land are the same, and purchasing a plot comes with a lot of need-to-knows about that specific land type.

The bulk of this book is a compilation of tips from experts on budgeting for rural land based on phone calls Pat had with these eight different experts.

Gardening Books For The Homesteader

Gardening Books For The Homesteader

Growing your own produce from a garden is a huge aspect of homesteading. For me, working in my yard and garden is super cathartic, but it’s also a huge undertaking. Wisdom from expert authors about the best times to plant each crop, tilling and fertilizing methods, tips for crop rotation, and much more will be extremely helpful when creating your first garden.

Organic Gardening For Beginners

Organic Gardening For Beginners

by Lisa Lombardo

Organic Gardening For Beginners opens with an overview of the most popular types of organic gardening, as well as the benefits and setbacks to each. This section is helpful for beginner gardeners to decide which method works in their space.

Lisa also provides explanations to several natural growth methods like controlling pests without chemicals, and a crop-by-crop inventory that tells beginners what they need to know about each plant and vegetable to start growing.

Growing Vegetables The First Time Gardeners Guide

Growing Vegetables:

The First Time Gardeners Guide

by Jessica Sowards

Jessica’s YouTube Channel, Roots and Refuge Farm, is filled with wisdom for the first-time gardener, and so is her book. I would recommend this quick read to anyone who is looking for the most basic information when it comes to growing your own food in a garden. Conversational in style, Jessica delves into common questions like where to put your garden, how to prep your soil, and how to keep pests and critters out of your home garden.

The Flower Gardeners Bible

The Flower Gardener’s Bible

by The Flower Gardener’s Bible

The ultimate flower gardener’s handbook, Lewis walks readers through everything from what to think about when choosing your growing site to increasing the lifespan of your flowers. The books includes many helpful tips on how to improve soil, fight off pests, make informed decisions about seasonal planting, and specific information about each type of flower.

Vertical Gardening

Vertical Gardening

by Derek Fell

Don’t let space limit you from becoming a homesteader. Derek’s book on vertical gardening is made for those who want to start a garden but don’t have a ton of space. The growing up and not out method is not dependent on having land to plant on, anyone can do it! With over 100 colorful pictures and diagrams to help with the process, Vertical Gardening showcases ways to grow perennials, shrubs, vegetables, flowers, and fruits no matter where you live.

A Seasonal Gardeners Handbook

A Seasonal Gardener’s Handbook

by Donna L. Long

The biggest key to knowing when to plant each crop without wasting seeds is to pay attention to seasonal crop patterns. Take it from Donna, knowing when to plant what is an intricate process. Her guide will have you creating your own seasonal gardening calendar and planting by the natural signs of the Earth in no time.

She teaches you everything you could ever want to know about seasonal gardening, including when and when not to prune, creating a simple compost pile, hardening off, tips for plant’s chilling hours, planting by the phases of the Moon, and when to plant each type of annual.

Preserving Food On Your Homestead, Best Books

Preserving Food On Your Homestead, Best Books

Preserving, canning, cooking for yourself, managing your food storage – these are all key aspects of the homesteader’s life. These books will take you through what you need to know to bake, save, and store all your own food stuffs.

The Ultimate Guide To Preserving Vegetables

The Ultimate Guide To Preserving Vegetables

by Angie Schneider

Angie’s ultimate guide gives readers access to charts, colorful pictures, and step-by-step instructions for all kinds of preservation methods like canning & pickling, fermenting, freezing, and dehydrating food. It’s a very helpful book for beginners because the instructions are highly detailed.

Her book also includes many of Angie’s family recipes to try on your homestead, like canned dilly asparagus, fermented corn salsa, dried scalloped potatoes, and dried pumpkin pie.

The Ball Book of Canning And Preserving

The Ball Book of Canning And Preserving

by Ball Test Kitchen

The Ball Book of Canning And Preserving is a classic for homesteading and food preservation. It shows up frequently on best of lists when it comes to food prep. Why? It includes over 350 recipes for the beginner to the experienced homesteader, ranging from jams, fruits, butter, jellies, jerkies, pickles, and salsas.

The instructional section of the guide covers water bath and pressure canning, pickling, fermenting, freezing, dehydrating, and smoking with detailed instructions and step-by-step photos to make the process simple and efficient.

The Complete Guide To Pressure Canning

The Complete Guide To Pressure Canning

by Diane Devereaux

Pressure canning is one of the most popular methods for preserving cooked meals. Diane’s The Complete Guide To Pressure Canning is a step by step resource to teach you the art of pressure canning, so you can preserve your favorite low acid foods for you and your family.

Covering everything from soups and stews, jar meals, broths and beans, and game and other meats, this guide will introduce you to everything you need to know about canning through colorful pictures and diagrams.

A Year Without the Grocery Store

A Year Without the Grocery Store

by Karen Morris

This book is geared towards food preservation to prepare for times when grocery stores may not be accessible. Homesteading is all about self-sufficiency, and these tips from Karen will teach you what you need to know to have enough food for you and your family at the ready, no matter what.

Complete with tips for economically storing food your family wants to eat, simple recipes for baking basic comfort foods from scratch, how to safely store and use water, and common mistakes homesteaders make when storing food with ways to do better.

Books on Off-Grid Living and Alternative Energy

Books on Off-Grid Living and Alternative Energy

Becoming self-sufficient with your energy sources is freeing because it cuts out the middle man. Plus, using alternative energy is great for the environment. Many homesteaders go off grid entirely, so let’s take a look at some books that can educate you on how to make off grid living a reality for you.

Off Grid Living 2022-2023

Off Grid Living:

Back to Basics Guide To Become Self Sufficient

by Small Footprint Press

This updated, 30-day guide to go from energy dependance to an entirely off grid life is extremely worthwhile for the new off gridder who wants to adopt the lifestyle as quickly as possible. This guide includes information on living off the grid without giving up any of your luxuries, how to use solar, wind, and geothermal sources, how to install different types of water systems in your home, the best US states for living off grid, and more.

Off Grid Solar Power Simplified

Off Grid Solar Power Simplified

by Nick Seghers

The most popular method of alternative energy on the homestead is solar power. Many people have asked me about putting solar panels on my own tiny house because I’m one of the few out there that is totally off the grid. Let me be the first to say the process isn’t easy and there is a lot to learn!

Nick is an electrical engineer who specializes in solar power design, so his tips are definitely backed by experiences. This manual delves into things like a comprehensive tool list for installing your own panels, tilting, cleaning, optimizing solar input, types of photovoltaics, and much more.

Wind Energy for the Rest of Us

Wind Energy for the Rest of Us

by Paul Gipe

Not as popular as the solar power method but still accessible for the average homesteader, wind turbines are another way to access alternative energy off the grid. Paul’s Wind Energy for the Rest of Us moves through many different methods for harnessing wind energy on your own homestead, including small and large turbines, water-pumping windmills, and multimegawatt wind turbines.

The Complete Guide to Water Storage

The Complete Guide to Water Storage

by Julie Fryer

Learning to store water is a vital for the life of a homesteader. But properly storing your water so its genuinely useable is a learned process, and this read is a great guide for getting started. Using tanks, ponds, and other means of water storage to maintain a safe and viable source of drinking water has become popularized in prepper and homesteader circles. Other water-saving techniques such as rainwater harvesting and gray water collection are also valuable and are explained throughout this guide.

Wood Stoves How to Make and Use Them

Wood Stoves:

How to Make and Use Them

by Ole Wik

Ever considered cooking with a wood stove? This quick read goes over everything you need to know about using and tending to a wood stove, including information about types of wood and stovepipes, how to actually use the wood stove once its going, how to cook with a wood stove, and general safety tips to consider when using an open flame in your own home.

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Homesteading For A Living: Books On The Business Side

Homesteading For A Living

Homesteading goes beyond self-sufficiency – it can also be a business, that, when maintained well, can bring you abundant rewards and financial freedom. Agricultural financing isn’t easy, but with a little guidance you can create the space to sell your tomato harvest, goat cheese, or homemade bar soap and make a substantial profit.

How to Make Money Homesteading

How to Make Money Homesteading

by Tim Young

This simple guide examines an array of skills that are crucial for turning your homestead into a business. Follow along with Tim and learn how to insulate yourself from financial collapse by monitoring which risks you take, manage your finances as you sell your crop, plan for retirement on the farm, and generate livable income from your own homestead. This book features interviews with 18 homesteaders and farmers who share intimate stories of their own journeys toward a fulfilling and financially freeing life on their homestead.

Starting & Running Your Own Small Farm Business

Starting Your Own Small Farm Business

by Sarah Beth Aubrey

Another great source for those who want to start homesteading but don’t have a ton of space to work with. Sarah Beth’s Starting And Running Your Own Small Farm Business is chalk full of savvy skills to help you get started, like planning your budget, web design to self-promote, and food service wholesalers.

The Organic Farmers Business Handbook

The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook

by Richard Wiswall

After working for twenty-seven years at Cate Farm in Vermont, Richard knows the ins and outs of running a farm like a business. In his book, Richard shares advice on how to make your vegetable production more efficient, manage your employees, create a budget, and turn a livable profit on your homestead.

The Future Is Rural

The Future Is Rural

by Jason Bradford

You might want to give yourself a minute to take this one in. Written by Jason the biologist and farmer, this book gives a very meta-assessment of what we know about our modern world and why that analysis can benefit the rural community.

Jason explains why, sociologically as well as economically, the decline of rural areas and dependence on fossil fuels will reverse entirely in the coming decade. This will greatly elevate the importance of self-reliance. If you’re looking for a high brow evaluation of why turning your homestead into a business and independently oiled machine is worth it, this is the book for you.

Farm Record Keeping Book

Farm Record Keeping Book

by Exocet Journals

Staying organized is crucial for running a successful farming business. Writing everything down in an all-inclusive journal can help with that. This record keeping journal is one smart way to log your daily farm routine, livestock care, seasonal crop rotations, repair operations, budget, and more – all kept in one place.

Books On Homesteading Skills, Tools and Supplies

Books On Homesteading Skills Tools and Supplies

Repairs, updates, and maintenance work is required for maintaining a successful homestead. Knowing which tools get the job done and understanding how to perform basic repairs can help you keep your farm in tip top shape and keep you from having to call for backup.

The Tool Book

The Tool Book:

A Tool Lover’s Guide to Over 200 Hand Tool

by Phil Davey

Phil’s tool book is basically an encyclopedia for common household tools. Leaf through this guide to find pictures of common tools from every imaginable angle, detailed patent drawings, zoomed in diagrams, and step-by-step illustrations of each tool being used with expert advice on how to use each tool best. The book covers different types of hammers, spades, chisels, and more.

Woodworking The Complete Step-by-Step Manual

Woodworking: The Complete Manual

by DK

This step-by-step carpenter’s manual includes guidance for a wide range of skillsets. New carpenters will learn the ins and outs of basic design techniques, how to use essential tools, and basic carpentry techniques like woodturning, furniture restoration, and wood joints.

More experienced carpenters can use their skills and follow the steps in the 28 different DIY woodworking projects the book provides. There’s something here for everybody wanting to learn more about woodworking.

Do-It-Yourself Plumbing

Do-It-Yourself Plumbing

by Max Alth

Another essential skill to get good at is plumbing, especially if you aren’t wanting to hire out on your homestead. This DIY guide includes over 500 photos, diagrams, and drawings to teach how to fix leaky faucets, balky toilets, clogged drains and traps, and even how to install hot-water and steam-heating system on your own.

Farm and Workshop Welding

Farm and Workshop Welding

by John Seymour

With over 400 step by step photos and tons of tips and suggestions for beginner to experienced welders, this comprehensive welding guide has it all. Learning to cut and shape metal will help you keep your homestead up to par and give you the freedom to create endless projects on your own.

Flip through Andrew’s comprehensive guide for detailed descriptions of specific types of welds like arc, MIG, gas, TIG, and plasma cutting. It also includes advice that extends into the wider workshop with advice on drill use, cutting threads, and blacksmithing.

Tools A Tool-by-Tool Guide to Choosing and Using 150 Home Essentials


Guide to Choosing and Using 150 Home Essentials

by Steve Dodds

Knowing which tools to use and how to use them is the first step in keeping up with repairs around your homestead. This quick read chronicles 150 power and hand tools with explanations on how to use them.

Steve informs readers in three clear cut sections. The first covers where you can go to find quality tools and what specifically to look for to ensure years of dependable use. The second section explains how to use eight basic tool kits, and the third section is a tool-by-tool inventory of virtually every power and hand tool you could need.

Homesteading Books On Raising Livestock

Homesteading Books On Raising Livestock

A homestead isn’t complete without livestock. If the goal is to be as self-sufficient as possible, producing your own food with as few outside sources as possible, raising animals is the best way to make that happen. This booklist will provide you with all the know-hows you need to reduce your dependance on big agriculture and learn to produce your own dairy and poultry.

Raising Chickens and Goats

Raising Chickens and Goats

by Jason Howard

Chickens and goats are the most popular choices for raising animals on a homestead, especially if you’re getting into agriculture for the first time. Jason goes over how to know if your chickens and goats are healthy when you purchase them, how to keep them from getting sick, and ways to protect your livestock from predators.

For chickens, he talks about how to build a chicken coop, tips to raise robust chickens, and how to choose the best chicken breed on a budget, and more. For goats, he goes over the best places to buy a healthy goat, common mistakes homesteaders make when raising goats, tips to keep your goats from getting diseases, and more.

The Homesteaders Natural Chicken Keeping Handbook

Natural Chicken Keeping Handbook

by Amy Fewell

Pretty much anything you’d want to know about raising chickens is likely found in the little guide. Amy provides detailed explanations of everything from understanding why chickens do what they do, creating your very own poultry or egg business, preventing and treating ailments with herbal remedies, setting up your property, coop, and brooder, and hatching new chicks.

Keeping A Family Cow

Keeping A Family Cow

by Joann S. Grohman

Keeping A Family Cow was originally published in the early 1970s as The Cow Economy, and has been reprinted many times with updates and edits. If you’re wondering if you should get a cow but aren’t sure where to begin, this is the book for you. Joann goes over cow knowledge essentials, like the health benefits of untreated milk, how to easily milk your cow, details on calving and breeding, and the ins and outs of making butter, yogurt, and cheese.

Raising Pigs

Raising Pigs:

The Ultimate Guide to Pig Raising on Your Homestead

by Dion Rosser

Learn the ins and outs of raising pigs with detailed instructions in Raising Pigs: The Ultimate Guide To Pig Raising. Dion’s ultimate guide covers how to choose the type of pig that will best suit your needs, how to build proper housing and fencing for your pigs, how to properly care for your swine, how to feed your pigs well, and tips for pig reproduction and breeding.

Books On Bees And Beekeeping

Books On Bees And Beekeeping

Beekeeping is not as difficult as it might seem at first glance. There are extensive benefits that come with adding beekeeping into your self-reliance skills on your family’s homestead.

The importance of bees often gets overlooked, but they are actually one of the most necessary creatures to sustaining humankind. Their role as pollinators is essential to our food chain and the longevity of society.

By beekeeping, you can do your part to help keep bees from going extinct. And the honey is a major plus! Check out this booklist to kickstart your journey as a beekeeper.

Beekeeping For Beginners

Beekeeping For Beginner’s

by Amber Bradshaw

If you’re new to beekeeping completely, I’d definitely recommend this read. Follow along with Amy, a homesteader and experienced beekeeper, to learn the basic fundamentals of modern beekeeping. This book will walk you through picking the right hive, bringing your bees home for the first time, surviving winters with your bees, the basics of collecting honey, and more.

Beekeepers Problem Solver

Beekeeper’s Problem Solver:

100 Common Problems Explored and Explained

by James E. Tew

It’s easy for things to go wrong when learning the art of keeping bees. This book explores 100 common problems for all beekeepers, from the beginner to experienced level. Then, it provides several methods to solve those problems directly. Each issue is addressed in detail with photographs and diagrams and tangible solutions from highly experienced beekeepers.

Honey Bee Biology And Beekeeping

Honey Bee Biology And Beekeeping

by Dewey M. Caron with Lawrence John Connor

This extensive and heavily researched beekeeper’s guide is for those curious about the science and history behind the art of beekeeping. This deep dive into beekeeping concentrates on the why, how, and when of beekeeping both today and in the past. Dewey and Lawrence explain bee basics in a manner meaningful to people who lack an intensive background in biology, covering colony management, basic bee biology, and more.

Helpful Reads On Permaculture

Helpful Reads On Permaculture

The practice of permaculture is all about managing your land and life in a way that is harmonious with the natural world. Getting started with permaculture begins with your thoughts then moves into your habits and lifestyle.

It means designing your land in a way that does not harm the earth, using your resources with environmental caution, decreasing your waste and your consumption, and creating an ecologically sound life on your homestead.

Permaculture A Beginners Guide

Permaculture: A Beginners Guide

by Graham Burnett

This is a valuable read if you’re entirely new to the lifestyle and mindset of permaculture. It’s a generalized beginner’s guide, so I don’t go this route if you aren’t actually a beginner – you might be frustrated by the level of simplicity! However, if you’re looking to learn the very basics of what permaculture is and how you can take baby steps to adopt the lifestyle, this is your book.

Earth User's Guide to Permaculture

Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture

by Rosemary Morrow

This is a slightly more detailed and extensive guide to permaculture than the one above. Rosemary talks a lot about the principles behind living a life built around permaculture: to care for people and the earth wherever possible.

Practically, she also provides detailed tips and instructions for the following practices: seed-saving, integrated pest management, domestic and rural water usage, dealing with weeds and wildlife in an ecologically friendly manner, and designing land to withstand natural disasters.

Permaculture Design a Step by Step Guide

Permaculture Design

by Aranya

This book is specifically geared toward land design and management under the umbrella of permaculture. Aranya explains the design process in extensive detail from beginning to end, covering designing frameworks, site surveying and mapmaking, placement and integration, and working with clients. There is an abundant use of flowcharts and diagrams throughout to help you learn the practice.

Prepping And Survival Skills

Prepping And Survival Skills

A prepper is an individual who focuses on training themselves in both urban and bushcraft survival skills to be prepared for all situations. Learning prepping and survival skills is a great way to prepare for all circumstances and make sure you have everything you need on your own homestead, should you be disconnected from civilization. These books go over basic and advanced survival skills for preppers and homesteaders alike.

Prepper’s Long Term Survival Guide

Prepper’s Long Term Survival Guide

by Jim Cobb

This step-by-step survivalist guide is full of advice, techniques, strategies, and skills to learn from the perspective of a lifelong prepping expert. Jim gives insight on preparing for the worst with skills like water collection for drinking and hygiene, storing water, growing food, hunting game, foraging in the woods, first aid and home remedies, and tactics for fortifying and defending your home.

SAS Survival Handbook

SAS Survival Handbook:

How to Survive in the Wild, in Any Climate

by John Lofty Wiseman

John’s handbook specifically addresses ways to survive unforeseen situations as they arise. John provides strategies and tactics for surviving in any type of situation, from accidents and escape procedures to adapting to various climates like polar, tropical, or desert, to identifying edible plants, to creating fire. The is an all-inclusive how to for surviving anything, complete with detailed descriptions, illustrations, instructions, and diagrams.

Natural Medicine And Remedies

Natural Medicine And Remedies

For some, being entirely self-sufficient without using outside sources includes medicine. Many homesteaders engage with herbal remedies like tinctures, teas, syrups, and salves to calm anxiety, heal wounds, or help with ailments like headaches or the common cold. These easy reads will give you some basic advice for beginning the world of herbal medicine.

The Homesteaders Herbal Companion

The Homesteader’s Herbal Companion

by Amy Fewell

This book is the go-to guide for those wishing to start their journey with home remedies. Amy covers everything from incorporating herbs and essential oils around your home, the basics of herbalism, and how to properly use each type of herb around your homestead. Whether you are new to homesteading and herbal medicine or you know the basics already, there is much to gain from this comprehensive guide.

Medicinal Herbs A Beginners Guide

Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide

by Rosemary Gladstar

In this beginner’s guide, Rosemary goes over 33 common healing plants and their uses. She also includes advice on growing, harvesting, and preparing each plant along with tips for using herbs in healing tinctures, oils, and creams. This is a valuable read if you’re looking for an in-depth inventory of useful medicinal herbs with pictures and tips for usage.

Be Your Own Doctor

Be Your Own Doctor

by Rachel Weaver

This book is specifically geared toward creating safe, high quality, in-home medical care. Rachel divides her book into sections: essential household remedies with which includes remedies for common issues, first aid, and immunity boosters, then health hormones and pregnancy, and, lastly, planning ahead and getting supplies. I would recommend this one to anyone thinking about trying herbal medicine in their homestead.

minimalism book reviews
tiny house book reviews

The Definitive Guide To Converting Your Cargo Trailer

The Definitive Guide To Converting Your Cargo Trailer

Cargo Trailer Conversion


Have you ever considered camping in a cargo trailer? Converting a cargo trailer from scratch allows you to design your camper to specifically fit your needs.

Having a blank canvas with so much room for creativity might seem a little scary, but if planned out well, it can really enhance your camping experience. A cargo camper is more affordable and customizable than traditional campers and RVs, and it is definitely sturdier than a tent.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

When I built my cargo camper as a temporary place to live while finishing up my tiny home, I loved being able to drop the ramp door off the back, pull out my mattress, and lay in bed looking up at the stars.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

What Type Of Trailer Should I Convert Into A Camper?

what type of trailer should i convert into a camper

I considered a lot of factors before choosing a 7’x14’ V-nose trailer to convert. There are many styles and sizes available, which can make the shopping process a little overwhelming at first. Let’s narrow down some of those options.

V-Nose Trailer Camper

V-Nose Trailer Camper

v-nose trailerA V-nose trailer is an enclosed trailer that features a V shape on the front rather than a flat shape. There are a couple of benefits to having this V-shaped front.

First off, it adds a few extra inches to the front, which could be a great spot for additional shelving and storage. I’ve even seen people use this extra space for their toilet and shower because it’s an easy place to hang a curtain for privacy. Another plus is that these trailers will get you better MPG, as the V shape is more aerodynamic and easier to pull.

I find the biggest downside to V-nose trailers is that they create a more complicated layout, since the shape is a bit awkward. But if you’re a handy person and this isn’t your first build, you may enjoy the extra challenge the V shape provides.

Flat Nose Trailer Camper

Flat Nose Trailer Camper

flat nose trailerA flat nose trailer is a traditional box shaped trailer. When I was shopping around for trailers, I found these to be the most popular and affordable option. The box shape gives you more space by the hitch, where I’ve seen people mount storage boxes in addition to their propane tanks. Plus, their modular shape makes for a much simpler interior design.

One important thing to note about flat nose trailers is wind resistance. If you’re worried about your cargo camper slowing you down, consider adding a wind deflector to the roof. For a small price, you can achieve an aerodynamic effect similar to that of the V-neck trailer.

Toy Hauler Camper

Toy Hauler Camper

toy hualer camperToy Haulers are considered RVs with fold down ramps and dedicated “garage” areas for large items like bikes, ATVs, or even watercraft. The built-in garage space is ideal for many campers and makes a great option for a camper conversion.

The most common toy hauler you’ll find is a bumper pull, and it has about the same weight capacity as a cargo trailer of the same size. These trailers will have a smaller garage, and if you plan on keeping that space intact for your toys, keep in mind that you usually have to unload the garage area to use the living space.

If you’re looking to keep the garage area as a dedicated space for large toys and you don’t want those toys spilling into your living area, you should consider a fifth wheel toy hauler. This type separates the bult-in garage area from the living area, so it’s a great option if you’re looking for the best of both worlds.

Best Size Cargo Trailer To Convert

Best Size Cargo Trailer To Convert

The first thing I did before shopping for a trailer was check my vehicles towing capacity. When I converted my trailer, I planned to use it as a temporary place to live by myself.

I knew I wouldn’t be doing much traveling, but that I needed to account for all of my belongings while my tiny home was under construction. With that in mind, I chose a 7’x14’ trailer, which was the perfect size for me.

cargo trailer 5x8
I would recommend a 5’x8’ trailer if you’re a solo camper who wants to get around easily. This is a great option if you don’t have a large truck but do have a mid-sized SUV or smaller truck that can handle a smaller load.

An empty 5’x8’ cargo trailer weighs around 800 lbs. and can hold about 2,200 lbs. of additional weight.

cargo trailer 6x10
I like this size because it’s a great option for two people, or a solo camper traveling with a dog. With the right style bed, you could easily sleep two people in this trailer. I’ve also seen a lot of people put a dog bed under their elevated bed.

An empty 6’x10’ trailer weighs around 1,000 lbs. and can hold about 1,800 lbs. in additional weight.

cargo trailer 6x12
For couples who camp together, this option is a great choice because it allows space for a larger bed and a shower. Plus, it can still be towed by a smaller truck.

An empty 6’x12’ trailer weighs about 1,200 lbs. and can hold about 1,800 lbs. of additional weight.

cargo trailer 7x12
This size trailer is great for couples with a dog or couples who take longer trips, as there’s a bit more room for storing your supplies. Be sure to take into account the weight of this camper when it’s fully loaded, as it may need a larger truck to be towed.

An empty 7’x12’ trailer weighs about 1,300 lbs. and can hold about 1,700 lbs. of additional weight.

cargo trailer 7x14
You might want to consider this option if you’re a small family with a large truck. This is a decent size trailer to fit bunk beds or a large seating area for a family.

An empty 7’x14’ trailer weighs about 1,400 lbs. and can hold about 1,600 lbs. of additional weight.

cargo trailer 7x16
This is an ideal option for a larger family who wants to get away from it all. You’ll need a larger truck to tow this because the weight will be higher, but it’s easily doable.

An empty 7’x16’ trailer weighs about 2,200 lbs. and can hold about 4,700 lbs. of additional weight.

towing a tiny house

How To Design An Enclosed Trailer Camper For You

How To Design An Enclosed Trailer Camper That Is Right For You

One of the first things I learned when building my camper and my tiny house is that planning your design ahead is the most important part of the building process. Start by pinpointing what your needs are and make note of what is most important on that list. Then you can start designing a camper and be confident that it will fit all of your needs.

how to design a tiny house

Can You Put A Bathroom In An Enclosed Trailer?

Can You Put A Bathroom In An Enclosed Trailer

I personally like the convenience of a full bathroom no matter where I’m parked, but some campers prefer to stick to campsites with facilities.

I’m often asked about toilets in tiny spaces. For camping purposes, I would recommend a composting bucket toilet or a portable toilet because they’re waterless and stowable. These will save space in both your water tank and your floorplan.

And, for all of the toilet questions you’re probably afraid to Google, I’ve answered them in my What It’s Really Like To Use A Composting Toilet post.

There are a few options for a shower in a trailer, with the easiest option being a shower stall kit. These can be purchased at your local supply store for around $400 with all parts included and are guaranteed to be lightweight.

If you’re a handy person and want to DIY, you can install a handmade shower like the one featured below. I would start with a shower pan and then install my waterproof enclosure next. I love the look of this modern shower with stainless-steel walls and a waterfall showerhead.

stainless steel shower
tiny house toilet options

Cargo Camper Bedroom Options

Cargo Camper Bedroom Options

When it comes to sleeping in a cargo camper trailer, I would recommend a bed that saves you the most space. With such limited square footage, a standard size bed may fill up the entirety of the trailer space. Here are some sleeping options that will save you the most space.

Elevator Bed

I’ve noticed the elevator bed growing in popularity, and for good reason! Similar to the Murphy bed, this option gives you plenty of floor space. But with the elevator feature, you don’t have to move anything out of the way to reveal the bed — you can lower your mattress to a height that allows you to leave most of your belongings where they are.
cargo camper elevator bed

Raised Bed

A raised bed is perfect for campers who need the extra storage space. They provide plenty of space for storing food, clothing, and maybe even a dog bed.
cargo camper raised bed

Murphy Bed

Murphy beds are a very common space-saving bed option. When folded, it provides open floor space and room to move around the trailer.

Also featured in this trailer is a futon. The futon is a great bed choice because, with a simple maneuver, it serves a second purpose. If you plan to spend a lot of time hanging out inside of your cargo camper, you may like having the seating area.

cargo camper murphy bed

Kitchen In A Cargo Camper

Kitchen In A Cargo Camper

I had so much fun designing and planning the kitchens for my tiny house and camper. It’s where I got to be the most creative and really started to customize my space to fit my needs. Even the minor details in your kitchen can really make a big difference in such a small space.

Kitchen Appliances in a Cargo Camper

store away cooktopI cook all of my meals from scratch and I love to grill out, so with this in mind, I focused more on my outdoor grill and reserved extra counter space in my camper kitchen. If you’re looking to save some counter space, a store-away stovetop is a great option.

I also opted for a convection toaster oven because it requires less power and space than a built-in oven. Take a look at my top appliance recommendations for more advice on how to equip a small kitchen space.

Fridges In A Cargo Camper

refrigerator In a cargo camperRefrigerators and freezers are a little trickier since they aren’t something you can just turn off and store away. You’ll need to be sure the one you choose is compatible with your power source and battery setup.

I don’t have much use for a freezer, so I use a small electric fridge that’s compatible with my solar power. Portable chest refrigerators are also popular options for trailer campers because they run on rechargeable batteries and most of them have a dual freezer option.

Sinks In A Trailer Conversion

undermount sinkA kitchen sink is something I certainly couldn’t live without. Take into account all of its potential uses: dish washing, clothes washing, hand washing (no need for a bathroom sink), and others. For this reason, I would recommend a deep sink to allow for multipurpose use.

I personally prefer an undermount-style sink because of the attachable accessory options, like the countertop slab for additional counter space.

Kitchen Pantry In a Trailer Camper

Let’s not forget about kitchen storage! People often finish their kitchen designs only to realize they forgot to account for a pantry.

kitchen pantry storageMake sure to give yourself enough space to store not only food, but also pots, pans, and dishes.
catty corner kitchenA catty-corner kitchen is a great use of the V shape. This kitchen features a microwave with a range hood, three to four burner stove, oven, and fridge.

Maximizing Storage In A Cargo Trailer Camper

Maximizing Storage In A Cargo Trailer Camper

I love seeing creative ways people incorporate storage into their camper designs. Creating storage space under a bed or bench gives a multi-use of the space. As you can see in this trailer camper, there is plenty of storage space below the bed that folds back up into a bench seat.

cargo camper raised bedIf you’re limited on counter space, take advantage of your walls by mounting and hanging items. Whether it’s with shelves or racks, mounting items to the wall will give you an alternative place to store household items and food.

In a V-nose style trailer, I would utilize the extra inches of the V shape as shelving space. Since I don’t have a bathroom vanity, I would use this space to store my toiletries and towels.

Enclosed Trailer Camper Conversion Design Inspiration

Enclosed Trailer Camper Conversion Design Inspiration

Starting a DIY camper conversion from scratch gives you the freedom to plan and design it to fit your personal needs and aesthetic. Check out these unique designs for some cargo camper inspiration.

Millard’s 5’x10’ Trailer Camper Conversion

Millards Trailer Camper Conversion

The Millard’s loved the idea of #vanlife as a way to hit the road and get away, but they did not want to spend a small fortune on the van and remodel. Instead, they opted for a 5’x10’ DIY trailer conversion. Now they can travel more and spend less, and they didn’t have to sacrifice a single feature!

millards converted cargo camper

Camper Conversion Storage

There’s a very cozy feel in this converted cargo camper. It features a double burner stove and kitchen sink, plus plenty of kitchen storage and storage under the bed. I also love the floating knife rack as a way save countertop and drawer space.

wood panel ceiling and accent walls

Camper Conversion Bedroom

The wood panel ceiling and accent walls in the camper make an elevated design touch. The bedroom features a TV mounted on the wall and an entertainment tray for beverages in bed. Shelving above the bed is perfect for storing a phone or book at night.

stowaway table and seat

Camper Conversion Kitchen

This design really takes advantage of the underbed space with a stowaway table and seat. Under that seat would be a great spot for additional storage, or even a portable toilet. On top of that, there’s tons of storage in the kitchen.

BAHN Camper Works’ Cargo Camper With Tons Of Seating

BAHN Camper Works Cargo Camper

Ryan, the owner of BAHN Camper Works, is an engineer who designs custom campers. When he realized he needed a bigger, higher quality camper to better suit his growing family, he decided to build one. This inspired him to start his business and he now builds custom campers to fit clients’ specific needs.

cargo trailer custome seating area

Trailer Camper Dining

For large families who enjoy game nights and eating meals together, a kitchen table of this size would be perfect. This cargo camper not only features a custom seating area, but also a large kitchen countertop, full-size sink, and large cabinets and drawers.

custom cargo conversion

Trailer Camper Kitchen

There are so many functional details in this custom cargo conversion. They have electrical wall outlets with USB ports next to the couch, a smart home panel is easily accessible over the door, and the furnace makes for a nice decoration in addition to providing heat.

cargo trailer kitchen sink

Trailer Camper Sink

The custom trailer also has a large kitchen sink with a water filtering faucet. It’s a great size for both dishwashing and clothes washing. A spice rack mounted on the cabinet displays a convenient use of storage.

How To Build A DIY Cargo Trailer Camper

How To Build A DIY Cargo Trailer Camper

Before my tiny house, I had never actually built anything before. After finishing my design and plans, I was a bit uneasy about actually beginning the building process. Here are a few tips I learned that will help ensure you’re off to a good start, especially if it’s your first DIY build.

Materials Needed For A DIY Cargo Trailer Camper Conversion

Materials Needed For A DIY Cargo Trailer Camper Conversion

Once you have a solid idea of your cargo camper design, you can start making a shopping list of materials you’ll need to purchase. This preparation will help ensure that you stay on track with your budget and that you won’t have to make multiple trips to your supply store.





Interior siding

Shower stall

Water heater


Light fixtures

Vent fan





The most important materials you’ll need to get started on your camper conversion are insulation and supplies for walls and floors. There are many insulation options, including foam boards, fiberglass batts, and sheep’s wool.

pro tip

The most popular form of insulation in a cargo trailer is rigid foam board, as it’s affordable, water resistant, sturdy, and most importantly, it gets the job done.

What Tools Do I Need For A DIY Cargo Camper Conversion

What Tools Do I Need For A DIY Cargo Camper Conversion

Like I mentioned earlier, my DIY camper and tiny house were the first things I ever built. I quickly learned that I needed to stock up on some essential tools. Depending on your design, you’ll need a variety of hand, power, and measuring tools. Be sure to check out my detailed tool recommendations.

tiny house tools

Heating And Cooling Options In A Trailer Camper

Heating And Cooling Options In A Trailer Camper

I’ve lived in a tiny home for quite some time now, so I can attest to how important it is to insulate your DIY build.

Enclosed cargo trailers don’t typically have insulation, so if you plan on camping all year round, it’s a good idea to insulate your cargo camper so you’re ready for any climate. Keeping warm in cold climates, and vice versa, is crucial to a pleasant camping experience.

Let’s talk about heating first. For starters, you’ll need to determine whether you plan to camp off grid or not. Once you’ve narrowed it down, think about the size of your trailer and how large of a system you’ll need to heat the entire camper.

options for heating a tiny house

In addition to heating, there are a lot of options for air conditioning. I’ve seen a lot of people install both an air fan and a portable AC unit. The air fan serves as a great backup should anything go wrong with your AC unit while you’re on the road.

I power both my tiny home and cargo camper with solar panels, which took a lot of trial and error at first. Check out what I learned in my post about Air Conditioning On Solar Power.

Plumbing In A Cargo Trailer Camper

Plumbing In A Cargo Trailer Camper

When converting my cargo trailer camper, the idea of plumbing was pretty daunting at first. It was hard to imagine having running water in such a small and mobile unit. As it turns out, it’s actually a lot simpler than I first thought.

Water Inlet

You have a few options for camper plumbing. One is an RV water inlet. If your camping involves campsite hookups, this would be a convenient option for you. These are simple to install and connect and can be used at almost any campgrounds.

RV water hookup

Water Storage Tank

For those who are always on the road or prefer off-grid camping, a water tank would be a better option. With this water source comes a few additional materials and connections. I go into more detail on this in my post about plumbing.

water tank for rv or camper

Regardless of the plumbing option you choose, make sure to take into consideration both a heating source and an inline water filter. Hot water is make or break for some people, so don’t forget it in your planning process if that’s you. I would also recommend placing an inline water filter in your pipes to automatically filter the water coming through.

Powering Your DIY Cargo Trailer Camper

Powering Your DIY Cargo Trailer Camper

Before I started using solar panels, my preferred method of power was a temporary 50-amp plug. This is a great electric option (even in addition to solar power) because it gives you flexibility with your power source. You can find your preferred amp plug and a drop extension cord at any RV store, then you’ll be all set to connect to power from a home or an RV park.

If you choose to go the temporary plug route, make sure to accurately calculate the voltage you’ll need for your size camper. There’s some basic math you’ll need to understand in order to properly power your camper, and I explain that in my Tiny House Electrical Guide.

cargo trailer solar panelsIf you’re on the road quite often and are considering solar power, you’ll want to mount the panels to your roof so you can capture sunlight while on the go. Mounting solar panels isn’t as easy as it looks, but luckily, there are smaller, more flexible panels made specially for RV and camper mounting.

After seven years of living completely off grid and powering my tiny home with solar panels, I’ve compiled some of my tips and tricks in this solar power post. Be sure to check it out if this is your preferred electric source for your cargo camper.

Cost To Convert A Cargo Trailer Into A Camper

What Does It Cost To Convert A Cargo Trailer Into A Camper

A DIY build for your cargo trailer conversion can vary in price depending on the quality of materials and appliances. The good news is, if you’re starting from scratch, you can budget from the beginning and plan ahead for how much or how little you want to spend.

A brand-new trailer, depending on the size, can cost between $4,000 and $6,000. Used trailers (in good shape) can cost as little as $2,000. Always make sure to check if the used trailer needs new tires or any other maintenance, as this can tack on an additional expense.

The largest costs will be materials like windows, insulation, and HVAC. Whether you install these features yourself or hire someone to do it will also largely affect the price. For some, the time and peace of mind saved by hiring a professional is worth the extra money. Keep this in mind when budgeting for your more expensive materials.

Another cost to consider is tools. If this is your first DIY build, you may need to take a trip to a supply store, but keep in mind that tools can get pricey. Stick with the essentials to begin with — you’ll be surprised what you can accomplish with just the basics.

Materials Price
Doors $500–$1,000
Windows $300–$1,000
Insulation $500–$1,000
Lumber $500–$2,000
Interior Siding $500–$1,500
Shower Stall $400–$1,500
Water Heater $500–$1,500
Materials Price
Toilet $20–$800
Light Fixtures $1,000–$2,000
Vent Fan $50–$200
Appliances $400–$4,000
Flooring $300–$1,000
Fasteners/Adhesives $1,000–$1,500
Paint $50–$200

how much does a tiny house cost cta

Four Of My Favorite DIY Cargo Camper Videos

Four Of My Favorite DIY Cargo Camper Videos

I really love the garage this DIYer incorporated into his camper. If you’re an adventurous traveler, this is an awesome way to bring along your camping or sports equipment.

If you’re building your camper to travel with kids, check out this video. It features two different space-saving bed styles, plus seating for a family of four.

Here’s a great cargo camper tour with tons of custom DIY design ideas. This build showcases both an elevator bed and a chest fridge, which are great for small campers.

This video shows a detailed tour of a nice, modern camper. I love the look of this design and the custom bathroom is definitely impressive.

FAQs About Utility Trailer Campers

FAQs About Utility Trailer Campers

There’s a lot to think about if you’re considering converting an enclosed cargo trailer into a camper. The best advice I can give is to do your research, plan ahead, and enjoy the process! Here are some common questions I get that you might also be wondering about.

Are Enclosed Trailers Safe To Sleep In?

With the proper ventilation, yes! There are a few different ways to get airflow in your trailer, and if you’re worried about fresh air, windows can easily be installed in a trailer.

If you’re going to be using propane to power your camper, you’ll want to install a carbon monoxide detector. These are standard in all RVs and should also be installed in cargo campers if gas is being used.

If you’re traveling with pets, you may also want to invest in a temperature monitoring device. This will allow you to check the temperature of your trailer camper from your phone while your pets are home alone. You’ll be notified if something goes wrong and the temperature jumps or drops to dangerous levels.

How Much Does A Cargo Camper Weigh?

A converted cargo camper can weigh anywhere between 2,000 and 6,000 lbs., depending on size and other interior factors. Here’s a great video that goes into detail on weight and vehicle tow capacity

What Kind Of Hitch Do I Need For My Tailer Camper?

Receiver hitches are divided up into five classes. The lower the class, the smaller the vehicle and weight pull capacity. For an SUV pulling a smaller sized trailer camper, a class 2 hitch should do the trick. Large vans and small pickup trucks would work well with a class 3 hitch. For larger trailers and tow vehicles, a class 4 or 5 hitch would work best. Be sure to do your research on what kind is best for your setup.

What Kind Of Truck Do I Need To Pull My Cargo Camper?

People assume they need to rent large trucks to tow trailer campers, but you’d be surprised at how much weight an SUV can pull. You’ll have to do some research on your vehicle to find the exact pull capacity, but I’ve put together some tips on how to find your vehicle towing capacity.

Do Cargo Campers Need To Be Insured?

Since a camper is not motorized, it technically does not need to be insured. You may, however, need to register your camper at the DMV. Some states require this to make sure your trailer camper is safe for the road. Be sure to check with your state, or the states you’ll be driving through, on camper regulations.

Are Converted Cargo Campers Welcome At RV camps?

Campgrounds will allow all types of converted vehicles, but RV parks will sometimes require an official RV registration. You can register a “non-motorized” vehicle as an RV, so it is certainly an option. If you plan to visit an RV park, be sure to check for this requirement.

Can I Have A Toilet And A Shower In My Cargo Trailer Camper?

Yes, there are many options for toilets and showers in cargo campers. Portable toilets and composting toilets are the most popular options because they don’t require water. Read more about waterless toilets in my post about tiny house toilet options.

As long as you take into account a water source (and likely a water heater), you can certainly install a shower in your cargo camper. I’ve seen a lot of V-nose spaces utilized for this. The tricky thing is providing privacy without taking up the space for a wall or door, so I would recommend hanging a curtain around the toilet and shower.

Can You Put A Window In A Cargo Trailer Camper?

A window is an awesome addition to any enclosed cargo camper. Once you’ve measured and cut out your window opening, installing the window frame is quite simple. Having a window allows you to enjoy the view and fresh air, and can really make all the difference in a trailer conversion.

Can I Go Off-Road With My Cargo Camper?

With the right size trailer and hitch, you can certainly drive off-road with your cargo camper. Depending on the quality and style of the trailer you converted, you may want to consider upgrading the suspensions and tires to help driving over rough terrain.

Your Turn!

  • What’s on your must-have list for your cargo trailer-turned-camper?
  • What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing on your DIY camper?

How To Build A Simple DIY Compost Bin

How To Build A Simple DIY Compost Bin

how to build a simple diy compost bin


Why Should I Build My Own Compost Bin?

why build a compost bin

When I first started composting, I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on fancy, overpriced composting bins or compost tumblers. I wanted to use the materials I already had lying around to try it out and see if I liked it. There are two simple approaches to building a composting bin that I like to recommend for beginners to get started quickly.

The first is a simple wooden compost bin that you can assemble yourself with just wood, screws, and glue. The second is a trash can composter, which you can make from an old trash can and a drill.

How To Build A Simple Wooden Compost Bin In 10 Easy Steps

How To Build A Simple Wooden Compost Bin

The reality is, you don’t need to spend a ton of money to create soil to sprinkle across your vegetable garden or fertilize your fruit trees. Just gather your supplies and follow 10 simple steps to assemble your wooden compost bin.

Supplies You’ll Need To Build A Simple Wooden Compost Bin

Supplies To Build A Simple Wooden Compost Bin

While you can make your compost bin any size you want, the board sizes included here should be enough to build a small bin about 30″ wide by 24″ deep by 24″ tall. Keep in mind lumber sizes are nominal, meaning a 1″ x 4″ is actually 3/4″ x 3-1/2″, and a 1″ x 6″ is really 3/4″ x 5-1/2″.

  • 2-1″x4″x8′ boards (we recommend cedar)
  • 8-1″x6″x10′ boards (we recommend cedar)
  • Box of 1-1/8″ galvanized screws
  • Box of 2″ galvanized screws
  • Screw gun or screwdriver
  • Hammer (to tap boards into place)
  • Carpenter’s square (to check alignment)
  • Wood glue
wooden compost bin

tiny house tools

10 Steps To Build A Simple Wooden Compost Bin

10 Steps To Build A Simple Wooden Compost Bin

Step 1: Cut your wood

The first thing you’re going to want to do is cut your wood to a proper size. Regardless of the exact method you choose to use, your bin should be big enough to handle to process of turning the compost. For this specific compost bin design, you’re going to cut up these pieces:

  • (10) 1x6x30″ for the horizontal slats for front & back
  • (10) 1x6x24″ for the horizontal slats for the sides
  • (8) 1x4x24″ vertical legs for the corners
  • (5) 1x6x31-½” slats for the lid
  • (8) 1x4x12″ battens for the lids and slide-in front panels
  • (1) 1×4 cut 24″ long, then rip in half to make rail pieces
cut wood pieces for compost bin

Step 2: Build the back of the bin

Once you have your lumber cut, you’re going to want to build the back of your wooden compost bin first. Place two leg pieces flat on the ground, then place six horizontal slat pieces between them. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but using the carpenter’s square to check for alignment when building each panel will help things go much easier when assembling the entire box structure. Screw your horizontal slats to the vertical legs with 1-1/8″ screws. Keep the ends of the horizontal slats 3/4″ inch from the outside edges of the leg pieces. Leave a 3/4″ gap between each of the six horizontal slats as you screw them in.
build back of compost bin

Step 3: Build the sides of the bin

Now you’re going to make the left and right sides of the bin the exact same way — laying the leg pieces flat and aligning the five horizontal slats between them. Space the slats the exact same way as you did for the back of the bin and screw them in. Once you have the sides made attach them to the back using 2″ screws and wood glue. The structure you’ve assembled so far should look like this example.
build sides of compost bin

Step 4: Attach the rail pieces at the front inside of the bin.

Next, attach the thin rail pieces to the horizontal slats on the inside front edges of the side panels with 1-1/8″ screws. These should be set back about 7/8″ from the front of the boards on each side to allow the removable front pieces to slide in and out easily.
add slide rail peices to compost bin

Step 5: Connect vertical legs to the front corners.

Using the 2″ screws and wood glue, screw the legs on the sides on the front of the bin. The sides of the front legs should be flush with the fronts of the legs on each side.